Two truckers were caught in an avalanche Monday night on the Dalton. Jack was not involved and neither of the drivers were seriously hurt. The road is now closed and the State is working on trying to trigger avalanches before they reopen. We’ve had tons of snow, seems like a record breaking year for snow actually, but for some reason no one made the decision to deal with this before it got to this point.
Photo credit: Jonothan James Kasak via the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner website
“One of the trucks that was stuck was a tanker carrying methanol; the other one carried glycol. When the highway reopens, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will evaluate whether there were any spills. The other two trucks were able to proceed with minimal assistance from a Department of Transportation crew, Bailey said.
Atigun Pass is one of a handful of mountain passes where work crews frequently fire Howitzer artillery at snowcovered slopes to trigger avalanches in order to prevent unplanned slides. Avalanche gates were installed on the south side of the pass three years ago to stop vehicles headed into avalanche danger. This was the first time the gate has been used.”
Another set of photos from years past… this guy was coming over a small rise and when he got to the top he saw some hunters in a pick up truck turning around in the road, so he was forced to go off the side and into the snow instead of hit them. Unfortunate.
Years ago Jack came across this load that fell off a truck north of Coldfoot. Click on the first one and scroll to the right. More info on the captions.
Jack is pretty sure this is an “explosion box”, a portable unit that’s probably used as a break room next to a rig most of the time, but it’s most crucial use is as an explosion shelter. If there’s a an explosion individuals can stay in it for protection. It’s actually upside down here and the damaged attached boxes are probably heaters or ventilation units.
The driver was looking to the left, drove off the road on the right, then turned the steering wheel abruptly to get back on the road, breaking the chains that held the box down and tossing it off the trailer.
Marks where the box first hit the ground.
This is most likely how the fallen load was tied down. This truck is carrying a similar unit.
There are four chains here. The fallen load was probably tied down correctly but the force was enough to break pieces of the trailer, probably not the chains themselves.
This was Jack’s first heavy haul load. He wasn’t actually part of the a heavy haul division yet but obviously it was a landmark load for him.
You can see the partially melted snow and the dry road. We are almost to that point in the year right now, and you can probably believe that it is an exciting time for us Alaskans who have snow 8 or 9 months of the year!
The drive line of this truck broke coming down 5 mile last summer. Just like putting it in neutral, the motor didn’t help slow him down. While trying to stop the truck going downhill the driver smoked his brakes, then coasted up 6 mile hill. His brakes wouldn’t hold him when he coasted to a stop, they were too hot. So then he rolled backwards into the ditch. There’s more than accidents that go on up on the road but most of it isn’t exciting enough to post. 🙂
The hill that drivers call “Koyukuk” is right next to the Koyukuk River and it’s one of the steepest on the Dalton. It’s about 30 miles south of Coldfoot. The video was taken last winter.
Jack happened to be there to document this huge mod being pushed up the hill by push trucks and also being steered from the back because it’s so long. If you look close you can see someone standing outside on the load as it goes up the hill – he’s steering the rear end as it goes around the curves. The guy doing the steering is one of the former owners of Carlile and he comes up the Dalton for these types of loads that need some special care. (Carlile was sold to Saltchuk Corporation a while ago.)
In case you are wondering, the truck is going pretty slow, about 5 miles an hour in 3rd gear. The last thing you ever want to do, Jack says, is change gears when you’re going that slow with that much weight since you’ll stop before you get it into a different gear. If you stop it’ll take a while to get going again and without the momentum you’re putting a lot of strain on the truck and there’s too much potential for breaking something. The years Jack spent in heavy haul were great years he says, but he doesn’t miss it.
This truck wrecked on the Parks Highway yesterday. The driver is fine but he was cited for negligent driving. The accident spilled about 2000 gallons of diesel into a ditch. Below is a link to a short article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about it.